Children and Young People’s Response to this Report
Feedback from children
MCPs welcomed the feedback in this report on what the Scottish Government has been doing since the Cabinet meeting in March. They were happy to see action around the issues that were raised, particularly the government’s commitment to incorporating children’s rights into Scots law on the 30th anniversary of the UNCRC. They felt that this will mean that more children and adults in Scotland know about children’s human rights and that more children in Scotland will grow up happy, healthy and safe.
They welcomed the government’s work with the Chief Social Work Adviser, Social Work Scotland and the Chief Social Work Officers on the issue of social work badges.
They were happy to hear that the Professional Standards and Professional Code for teachers are being updated to include the views and experiences of children and young people. However, they were clear that they wanted children to be involved in teacher training. Since the last Cabinet meeting, MCPs have been working on this issue by meeting with the Leadership Team of Education Scotland and by delivering a workshop with students on the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) Primary at Moray House.
MCPs were glad to have a say on the first annual progress report on child poverty and would like to be given more opportunities like this.
On some issues, the children would like to see the government explaining their actions and the results - rather than saying that they are considering an issue. They have had to raise a couple of issues in more than one meeting (e.g. involving children in teacher training and the removal of social work badges in schools). They would like to be able to discuss different issues at the meetings.
They understand that not everything that they raise will result in a change straight away, or even at all. But when the government hasn’t been able to take action on a particular issue, they would like to know about that and to hear why that’s the case and what the barriers are.
MCPs look forward to continuing their positive work with the government in 2020 and supporting them in their progress to making rights real for all of Scotland’s children.
Feedback from young people
It was always going to be a challenge for the Scottish Government to follow on from the success of the Year of Young People 2018. However, they certainly didn’t fall short. The Scottish Government’s promise to fully incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law by the end of this Parliamentary session demonstrated their continued commitment to children and young people’s rights. As Chair of the SYP, I’m delighted that our call for full and direct incorporation has been listened to, something that has been raised at every Cabinet meeting by MSYPs.
Having said this, there is still a long way to go until Scotland’s children and young people’s rights are fully respected and upheld. We still need a "seat at the table" about all matters affecting us. For example, 24% of children in Scotland are living in poverty, and this figure is set to increase. 60% of young people say that exam pressure has left them feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. Our generation are battling with a mental health epidemic, with rates of depression and anxiety skyrocketing. What would happen to these statistics, and the children’s lives these statistics represent, if their voices were truly being heard?
We’ve seen significant progress on the matters we brought to the last Cabinet meeting. After nine years of SYP’s campaign efforts, we’re pleased to see that the Scottish Government are now considering their scope to ban Mosquito Devices within the limit of their powers. After delivering our "All Aboard" recommendations based on young people’s views, the Scottish Government have agreed to review concessionary discounts of public transport to all under 26s. Promises to strengthen support provisions during school education have also been made, and we look forward to seeing what additional methods the Scottish Government will put in place to develop young people’s resilience to adverse experiences. We were encouraged by the Scottish Cabinet’s active role in our “Rights! The Missing Piece to Childhood Adversity” jigsaw, with the First Minister returning the final missing piece on World Children’s Day 2019. Ministers must now act on what they learned during the jigsaw exercise: human rights are a shield to childhood adversity.
We’re grateful to work with a Government so willing to involve children and young people in the decision-making process. The swift delivery of these promises will ensure that children and young people are being properly respected and protected in Scotland. We look forward to seeing these promises fulfilled.
Jack Dudgeon, MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament.